Exploring Plant-Friendly Fungi for Natural Compounds That Boost Seed Germination

Greg Howard
9th June, 2024

Exploring Plant-Friendly Fungi for Natural Compounds That Boost Seed Germination

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority focused on isolating and evaluating fungal endophytes from various plant species in Egypt to promote maize seed germination
  • Three promising fungal strains, Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus flavus, and Aspergillus terreus, were identified for their potential to enhance seed germination
  • These fungal strains showed significant antioxidant and antifungal activities, which can protect plants from oxidative stress and pathogen attacks, promoting overall plant health and growth
The urgent need for new bioactive molecules with unique mechanisms of action and chemistry is critical to address the detrimental effects of incorrect use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on both the environment and human health. In this context, a recent study by the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority aimed to isolate, identify, and evaluate the germination-promoting potential of various plant species' fungal endophytes[1]. Fungal endophytes are microorganisms that live within plant tissues without causing harm. These fungi have shown potential in producing bioactive compounds that can promote plant growth, fight pathogens, and enhance stress resistance. The study focused on Zea mays L. (maize) seed germination using spore suspensions from 75 different endophytic strains. Through screening, three promising strains were identified: Alternaria alternata, Aspergillus flavus, and Aspergillus terreus. These strains were isolated from the stems of Tecoma stans, Delonix regia, and Ricinus communis, respectively. The research examined the ability of these three endophytic fungal strains to produce siderophore and indole acetic acid (IAA). Siderophores are compounds that bind and transport iron, which is essential for many biological processes, while IAA is a plant hormone that promotes cell elongation and division. The results showed that Alternaria alternata recorded the highest rates of IAA production compared to Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus terreus. However, all three strains failed to produce siderophores on CAS agar versus blue media. Additionally, the antioxidant and antifungal potentials of extracts from these fungi were tested against different plant pathogens. The study found that the extracts from all three fungal strains exhibited significant antioxidant and antifungal activities. These activities are crucial as they can protect plants from oxidative stress and pathogen attacks, thereby enhancing plant health and growth. The chemical composition of the fungal extracts was analyzed using GC-Mass studies, which identified both well-known and previously unknown bioactive compounds. This discovery is significant as it suggests that these fungal strains could be sources of novel compounds that promote seed germination and plant growth. The findings of this study align with earlier research highlighting the potential of natural products in drug discovery and agricultural applications. For instance, natural products have historically contributed significantly to pharmacotherapy, especially for cancer and infectious diseases[2]. Recent technological advancements have revitalized interest in natural products, particularly for tackling antimicrobial resistance. Similarly, marine-derived bioactive compounds have shown therapeutic potential in various diseases, including antimicrobial and anticancer properties[3]. The strategic blueprint proposed to improve the discovery and development of new antibiotics underscores the need for innovative chemistry and modes of action to address multidrug-resistant pathogens[4]. Furthermore, the study's identification of Alternaria alternata as a potent source of bioactive compounds is consistent with previous findings that this strain can produce the anticancer drug vinblastine[5]. This reinforces the idea that fungal endophytes are valuable sources of bioactive compounds with significant biotechnological potential. In conclusion, the study by the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority demonstrates the potential of fungal endophytes as sources of bioactive compounds that can promote plant growth and protect against pathogens. By identifying and characterizing these compounds, the research opens new avenues for developing novel plant growth promoters and bioactive molecules, addressing both agricultural and environmental challenges.

BiotechPlant ScienceMycology


Main Study

1) Bioprospecting endophytic fungi for bioactive metabolites with seed germination promoting potentials

Published 8th June, 2024


Related Studies

2) Natural products in drug discovery: advances and opportunities.


3) Promising bioactive compounds from the marine environment and their potential effects on various diseases.


4) Towards the sustainable discovery and development of new antibiotics.


5) Discovery of the anticancer drug vinblastine from the endophytic Alternaria alternata and yield improvement by gamma irradiation mutagenesis.


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